In the GenDIY series we talk a lot about the making informed and smart life choices. However, as you pave your own unique path you won’t always make the best decisions. The beautiful thing about life, especially as you navigate difficult choices, is learning from your mistakes. That’s why we love Cooper’s story that was featured as part of the Buck the Quo campaign, from The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. We are featuring the campaign as part of the GenDIY series. Buck the Quo includes a YouTube series where real people talk about real life after high school.
The truth ain’t always easy to hear, but it can be even harder to say. Cooper doesn’t have that problem. He’s got a nose for BS and he’s been sniffing it out his whole life. You want a dose of the real world? A taste of rock bottom? Cooper’s been there, clawed his way out, went back in again, and then got out for good.
Cooper couldn’t stay in a school very long before his behavior got him bounced on to the next one. The thing is, he wasn’t a bad kid. He was just moving faster than the system around him. Schools wanted to slow him down and make him work at their pace. But that was forcing a kid with unlimited energy and forward-thinking ideas into a tiny little box. It didn’t work out for him . . . or them.
He ended up getting sent to behavioral development camps where he was forced to “work out” his issues by sweating in the mountains. He got himself through those camps, through the teachers that didn’t understand him and graduated from Centennial High School in Boise.
But Cooper hadn’t put the hard times behind him. He was stuck in a place where all his fuel and fire were just being bottled up. Can you guess what happens when fuel and fire mix in a bottle, KABOOOM! He ended up in a high-speed car chase with the police that ended in his arrest. His life was done at that point, it was only by the tiniest circumstance that he was given a chance to stay on the path to prison, or get himself pulled together. He chose right.
The first step for Cooper in figuring out how to reshape his life was to get into college. He did and right out of the gate struggled with the classes and their slow pace, but at the university level, he had ways to work the system. He got involved with CLEP Testing. This allowed him to study a subject at his own pace, take one exam, and get the credits for a college course without ever attending the class.
With options like the CLEP and his own dedication, he was able to learn about entrepreneurial business in school, while also diving head first into the real estate market to start selling houses and make money. He was real good at it until the market for houses crashed and again, he found himself in a low place. But, it didn’t keep him down. He got on his feet and opened a business called Banshee Bungee. Then he opened another, then another, then another. Cooper’s started six business in total. Today he is the Founder and CEO of Intacto Arms in Boise.
Sure, there were failures for Cooper. . . big ones . . . but that didn’t make him quit. We all have tough stuff going on in our lives every day. That doesn’t mean we have to let them kick us around and then stay down. If we learn from the hardest parts of our lives, we have the opportunity to build a future free from the same pain we let beat us in the past.
Cooper’s the proof. He wears the tough stuff like armor. Now, life’s scared of him.
Young people are taking control of their own pathway to careers, college and contribution. Powered by digital learning, “GenDIY” is combatting unemployment and the rising costs of earning a degree by seeking alternative pathways to find or create jobs they love. Follow their stories here and on Twitter at #GenDIY. For more, check out:
- Getting Smart Podcast | GenDIY: Emerging Options for Students Navigating Life
- Imagine Running a Phone Store While You’re Still in High School
- Living Your Future Is An Authentic Process
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